For my final project I decided to mount a course unit in a LMS and an alternate online resource. I decided to use Moodle and Weebly. I’ve had some experience with Moodle, but Weebly was entirely new to me so that part of the assignment took a lot more learning and planning.
Mounting the unit I wanted to present in Moodle was fairly easy because the school district that I work for has access to course content through the BCLN. It’s a good thing that I had access to this content because building it from scratch would take way more time than this assignment allowed for. I used the restore feature in Moodle to get the content I wanted to mount. Once that was all in I just needed to work on the layout and any changes that I needed to make to the content. Moodle is great because of it’s many built in features like secure messaging, built in submission, a gradebook, backup and restore features. It also has many different options for activities and resources that you might want to include in a course. Once users are in the Moodle system it’s easy to enrol student into your course. Then it’s just a matter of keeping on top of your marking and messaging. Moodle’s backup and restore options are very easy to use. The first backup that I made included all the course data as well as student data, this could be used just in case something went wrong with the course and as a record of a completed course. The second backup file that I made included just the course content. This can be used to start a new version of the course. With just one click you can delete an old course and have a new one ready to go. If there was any overlap in teaching your courses and you weren’t ready to delete all your course data, you could get your site administrator to set you up a new course section and restore a new course there and start fresh.
Weebly was a lot more work because it’s just a web page building site and not a LMS, so it lacks almost all the features that you have in Moodle. It is a good site for delivering content so I would most likely use Weebly in a blended class environment where I just need to get students through some content. But in the case you wanted to use Weebly as a primary place to deliver your course through, you could do some work arounds to make up for the lack of features. This is what I did. All assignments were to be submitted to me through email. I used a Google Form to create a quiz. The quiz wasn’t as good as the one in Moodle because Google Forms don’t have nearly as many options. What I would have liked to do would have been to password protect my site. By upgrading Weebly you have access to this feature, but I was just using the free version so whatever you publish is open for all. I would use Gmail and Google Drive to organize all the communications and submissions for the course. And I could use a Google sheet or some other software to set up a gradebook. It also looks like Weebly can be tied to Google Apps if you pay for that premium service. If you do this I can see Weebly working more like a LMS. Backing up my course was easy because all you had to do was hit a ‘Copy Site’ button and it was duplicated. The only student data in my Weebly site would be the comments, so duplicating an active courses would save that student data just in case something went wrong with the original site. I would use a new copied version of the course everytime I run the course so it doesn’t have any comments from the last group. What I would also need to do when restarting a class would be to set up new labels and folder in Gmail, Drive and Sheets to correspond with my new group of students. This data can also be downloaded to a USB drive for further backup.
The tools in Weebly were simple enough to use. I found them very basic compared to Moodle. Weebly makes you choose a theme when you start to build a site. I found many of them too distracting or dark. I wanted my lessons to have a clean look with minimal distractions from the content. I ended up finding a theme that had a white background with simple menus for quick navigation. When building my site in Weebly I found an easy way to do it by importing html code from my Moodle site. It wasn’t as simple as copy and paste. Many of the elements I wanted to include, like video, couldn’t be inserted into the html code properly through Weebly so I had to build or insert them separately.
Here’s a link to my Moodle site. It will take you to a guest access login. The password is “eddl5151”
Overall this was a great learning experience and the skills I learned along the way will most certainly help me throughout my teaching career.